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One of our contributors, Wombat, breaks through all the BS and tells us what  REALLY happened Friday night at the emergency BOCS meeting to set an advertised tax rate:

“News Flash! All those years – including this one – of these big showdowns and death by powerpoint arguments over what tax rate to advertise have been completely unnecessary! The staff can advertise the rate as an administrative item, just like they do in neighboring counties. So they will advertise the 3.88%. That’s what goes in the paper. Now everyone can actually look at the budget and figure out what should stay, what should go, and what the actual rate will end up at. But not before we had to go through two incredibly painful and embarrassing meetings. The county needs to add money to the budget to pay for all the PTSD counseling we need after that.”

A huge thanks to Wombat for setting the record straight.  How long were we going to be kept in the dark over this process?  How long were we going to be subjected to the antics of the BOCS–with 4 of them trying to get their conservative cred on?  (all at the expense of the county residents, I might add.)

Setting a ridiculously low advertised rate such as the one suggested by Pete Candland and supported by his cronies, Lawson, Anderson and Stewart) does nothing but strip away all avenues for discussion and debate.  It does nothing to help the schools, regardless of the BS he tells us.

According to Bristowbeat.com:

Still unable to reach a consensus on the advertised tax rate, Friday evening, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors defaulted to advertise the “administrative” property tax rate at 1.145 percent or a 3.88 percent increase of FY16 as per the county’s five-year plan.

If enacted, that would amount to an average increase of $145 annually from FY16. However, with four on the board pushing for a flat tax rate or even lower rate, it is unlikely the 3.88 percent will become the final number in April.

Virginia jurisdictions are required to advertise the tax rate by March 5. However, it is not a final tax rate, but a tax ceiling. Property taxes can always be decreased, but they cannot be increased after the tax rate is advertised.

Board Chairman Corey Stewart (R) told citizens not to interpret the advertised tax rate as an indication that the board is in favor of that number.

While the special meeting was held to allow the board reach consensus, members only achieved gridlock.

Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland (R) did most of the talking, advocating for last year’s tax rate or lower. In a 30-minute speech, Candland made his case for a tax rate of 1.115 percent.

He said he wanted to clear up any confusion. Although it would be a decrease over last year’s rate, it would mean more revenue for the county. It would bring in 6.3 million above this year, a number that he sometimes rounded to $7 million. If the board decided to advertise a flat tax of 1.122 percent, it would bring in an additional $10 million for the county.

Candland said he supports a flat tax because seniors incomes are not keep up with rising taxes, and property taxes this year will have more of an effect on mid to low properties than properties worth half a million or more.

Also advocating for a flat tax of 1.122 or less were Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville), Ruth Anderson (Occcoquan) and Chairman Corey Stewart. Others on the board wanted to advertise according to the five-year plan.

Using seniors as an excuse to go on the cheap is disingenuous.  Many seniors can apply for senior tax relief.  The cut off is  $81,490 household income with assets excluding the home at around $340k.  That isn’t exactly being in the poor house!  Those who don’t  qualify for the senior relief aren’t suffering any more than anyone else in the county.   In fact, those with kids probably are suffering a lot more than many of the senior citizens who live in gated communities.

The advertised rate is now at 3.88% higher than last year.  With that rate, the BOCS can go lower and can eliminate unneeded spending.  Had the rate been set at Candland’s rate, all discussion would have been off the table.  It looks like Candland was foiled again by common sense rules.  Too bad the residents had to watch the grandstanding and posturing.  It was ear-piercing.

We need discussion in this county as to how we want to spend our money.  We also need to think beyond ourselves.  There is just too much me me me going on.

 

15 thoughts on “Conservative faction on BOCS attempts to take away discussion

  1. Ray Beverage

    Moon, agree with you about using our Older Virginians as an excuse. I listened to that and, although the information about Social Security Cost of Living was correct, I shoke my head as that is not the whole picture.

    You mentioned the RE Tax Relief, and when you look at the numbers across any of our Prince William Area Governments, it is a small percentage of the grand total of our our Seniors. The Poverty Rate across our Area for those 60 and Older (age 60 being the Older Americans Act age starting point) is just a little over 5%. That’s a little over 2,600 out of over 52,000.

    Mr. Candland’s factoids did not include also the average Retirement Income across Prince William County. That is Retirement Income from other sources (savings/investment/employment/Military/ec.) which averages just shy of $40,000. True, not a lot overall to some folks when combined with Social Security; however, then comes the fun of other factors such as those who own their home and have no primary or secondary mortgage. You and I both know a mortgage is a big eater of a family budget.

    What got me laughing though when he addressed Sudley – in a VERY bad way in my book – was the Assisted Living. You never factor in Assisted Living or Nursing Homes when addressing incomes since that is a totally different set of numbers. Yes, there are impacts to our Older Virginians in those living setings, but cannot be compared to those living in the balance of the community.

    As for my fair City, I am waiting for Monday, March 14th. City Manager is presenting his budget. Then the games begin…especially with an election year for Mayor, Mssrs. Wolfe, Lovejoy and Way. Can’t wait to see what grandstanding occurs.

  2. @Ray Beverage
    The only places in Sudley that are assisted living have a pretty price tag on them. My mother was in Sudley Manor house. She has been dead nearly 10 years. She paid about 4500 a month then. Not the place to be looking for poverty, that’s for sure!!! (there are two others in Fairmont, not sure if that is included in Sudley or not.. Same set up.)

    I hope your peeps don’t use the seniors as the shining example of poverty, like Candland did. Thanks for your input, Ray. Those facts are important.

    I still pay a mortgage and I don’t feel like the wolf is at the door!!

  3. Renegade

    I find it interesting that this blog and its commenters spend a lot of time criticizing other blogs for mean attacks on people they disagree with, but then do the same thing on this blog. I only offer that as an observation because I enjoy the back-and-forth personally.

    From my personal standpoint, I think the budget in Prince William County both for the schools and county government is too tilted to expansion of government rather than a more moderate growth. I personally appreciated the effort that Candland put into analyzing the budget impacts.

    I tested the numbers Candland presented as described here and on that other “nasty” blog and I think the numbers are correct that Candland offered.

    My parents fall into that senior group where they made good decisions on their retirement planning, but it is being tapped hard with these tax increases. So they are above the line to get relief from taxes, but still feel the impacts. They are now looking to make another good retirement planning decision because of these taxes and they are moving to a better tax area for seniors. We had a long discussion and they completely agree with Candland – and they are Democrats.

    I happen to live in Sudley. In my personal circumstance, my income outgrew the area but we like our home and the neighbors. But my neighbors are getting hit very hard with these tax increases because of assessment increases over the past three years.

    I think a little balance is needed.

    1. One more thing…if Trump’s behavior is acceptable to people, then say so. Don’t tell me what someone else is doing. It should be no surprise that I find his public behavior horrifying.

    2. Renegade, who have I been mean or demeaning to?

      I thought I addressed the issue. I didn’t make fun of anyone.

      (well, maybe Trump but he doesn’t count)

    3. I guess you are lucky to have your income outgrow the Sudley area. I live there also and I have no idea if my income outgrew it or not. I don’t want to move and I don’t want a big house that is too much to take care of. So I stay.

      I can tell you for a fact that Sudley taxes are going up very little. They went up about 30k last year but this year, not so much, maybe 1/4 of that. Westgate went up a lot this past year.

      I think if you live in PWC you should plan on your taxes going up 20 bucks or so a month. If they don’t, then live it up. If you don’t qualify for the Senior Tax Assistance, then you should be able to survive. Good grief!

      Read what Ray has to say. He works with the agency on aging.

      Furthermore, no one has been mean to anyone. Discussing policy isn’t mean. Now if I said one of them had a bobble head, wore lipsticks or tutus, then that would be mean.

  4. Pat.Herve

    Was it not last year that Candyland made all the talks about holding taxes and the rates down – yet did not want to discuss what cuts to make? He abstained from the votes on what to cut.

    Leadership is hard – complaining is easy. Do not complain about the rate and then not be part of the solution of what to cut.

  5. Mom

    @Pat.Herve
    Actually, you are incorrect. He came up with a list as did several of the other Supervisors. They agreed to put them all on a list of cuts and then review them one more time prior to the adoption of the budget. That review took place at the Buckhall Firestation in the midst of a freak snow storm and those that had committed to the cuts suddenly flip-flopped and put all of the cuts back in, largely because they could fit under the ceiling set as a result of the advertised rate. At some point early on when it became obvious that all of the “cuts” were being restored by 6-2 or 5-3 votes keyed by Mike May’s presence, Pete and Jeanine stopped participating in the charade and made it very clear why. So now do you understand why the advertised rate is so important to Pete, Jeanine, Ruth and this year Corey?

    This year is substantially different in that with the absence of Mike May, there is no fifth vote that allows Master Debater Nohe to come in and “save the day” with a compromise. Thus, Maureen and Marty have their knickers in a twist because the rules of the game have changed. Those are the two obstructionists who don’t really want to have a “discussion” because the rules are no longer rigged in their favor.

    1. Once the rate is advertised they can debate away. I think MY issue was the grandstanding over the advertised rate.

      MoM, you and I probably just won’t agree on what should be cut and what not. I tend to come down on the side of services and new equipment.

      Interesting, this year. Corey. Snicker.

      As for cutting stuff out…I vaguely remember. I think putting in a bare-bones advertised rate cuts out the discussion. I have to side with Al’s old dogs on this one. Give yourself some wiggle room.

  6. Mom

    I’m fine with wiggle room, I draw the line at creating enough room for the typical Kabuki Dance.

    1. I have a problem when PWC always tries to operate on the cheap. Then everyone wants his or her own little piece of the pie.

    2. Actually I am far more worried in the long run over the precedent being set over stripping schools of their names than I am over money.

      I understand everyone has to get their con-cred on. It just pisses me off that the people who live in the biggest houses holler the most about taxes. Well doh….get a smaller, older house or move to Fauquier Co.

  7. Lyssa

    If a five year plan is not something the BOCS wants to do, they should stop. This is way too reactionary – and painful. Not to mention useless. You can’t run the 7th wealthiest county in the US with one of the fastest growing populations with amateurs and failing wannabes. In 2014, PWC was one of the fastest growing counties with almost an 8% increase in population over 2010. At that time, Stewart said the Weldon Cooper report showed the county was on the right track attracting young families. Young families want schools and fields. Twelve months ago, so did Stewart. 10% of the population is over 60. The median income is $97k. These demographics want good services. These demographics require long term planning. Thoughtful, prioritized, planned projects.

    What are the long term goals? Isn’t there a strategic plan? What’s the use/point of that document? Does the strategic plan include tax goals? Maybe it should. Or maybe a few need to quiet down, read a bit more and learn. Then speak.

    That whole exercise with the Finance Director two weeks ago was so embarrassing. Do they’re really think the woman is incompetent, trying to trick them and/or outright attempting to deceive them? Those accusations seem to arise when the discussions become complex.

    Unbelievable.

    1. I get the feeling, listen to some people and reading comments, that certain individuals feel county staff is the enemy, trying to dupe them and steal their money. Its paranoid. County employees will make the same amount regardless.

      I am thinking about the $97k median income–was that for people over 60? I must then ask, what on earth was Candland talking about? That demographic has plenty of money and should not be whining. I think some of those gated community senior communities get down there and whine about ties. Just a cursory glance tells you those dudes aren’t staving to death.

  8. Lyssa

    No. Only 10% of the population is over age 60. Median income over age 60 is $73k.

    % living under poverty level 7.2% in PW
    % living under poverty level 6.0% in Fairfax

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